Wednesday, June 27, 2012
mercy mixed with justice
"Go, inquire of the LORD for me and for those who are left in Israel and in Judah, concerning the words of the book that has been found. For great is the wrath of the LORD that is poured out on us, because our fathers have not kept the word of the LORD, to do according to all that is written in this book."
2 Chronicles 34:21
Josiah led the Jewish people back to God. He was motivated by his own personal worship of the Lord. He began by removing every vestige of idolatry from the land. From there he turned to restoring the temple that had once again fallen into disrepair.
Workers cleared the rubble and started refurbishing. In the midst of this work, a scroll of the Book of the Law of Moses (probably Deuteronomy) was found in the dusty neglected recesses of the temple complex. No one had read it in a long time. It was brought out and read to king Josiah. His immediate response upon understanding God's Word was to mourn for the sins of his nation. He knew that they had not followed the covenant of the Law and that its curses were destined for them because of their disobedience.
Eventually God both confirms Josiah's fears and calms his alarm. The remnant of Israel and the citizens of Judah would be judged harshly for generations of abandonment of their covenant with God (2 Chronicles 34:25). This would certainly come to pass. But Josiah's righteous return kept a generation from experiencing this. God assured the king that He was pleased with the repentance currently in Judah. Josiah would not live during the coming disaster. He would rule and die in peace.
It would be totally impossible to hold back the rising tide of judgment coming against the people of Israel. But God would faithfully reward their present obedience. Grace and mercy would mix with justice as only God can mix them.