2 Kings 22:1-10; 23:1-3
Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign; he reigned for thirty-one years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jedidah daughter of Adaiah of Bozkath. He did what was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in all the way of his father David; he did not turn aside to the right or to the left.
In the eighteenth year of King Josiah, the king sent Shaphan son of Azaliah, son of Meshullam, the secretary, to the house of the Lord, saying, ‘Go up to the high priest Hilkiah, and have him count the entire sum of the money that has been brought into the house of the Lord, which the keepers of the threshold have collected from the people; let it be given into the hand of the workers who have the oversight of the house of the Lord; let them give it to the workers who are at the house of the Lord, repairing the house, that is, to the carpenters, to the builders, to the masons; and let them use it to buy timber and quarried stone to repair the house. But no account shall be asked from them for the money that is delivered into their hand, for they deal honestly.’
The high priest Hilkiah said to Shaphan the secretary, ‘I have found the book of the law in the house of the Lord.’ When Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, he read it. Then Shaphan the secretary came to the king, and reported to the king, ‘Your servants have emptied out the money that was found in the house, and have delivered it into the hand of the workers who have oversight of the house of the Lord.’ Shaphan the secretary informed the king, ‘The priest Hilkiah has given me a book.’ Shaphan then read it aloud to the king.
Then the king directed that all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem should be gathered to him. The king went up to the house of the Lord, and with him went all the people of Judah, all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the priests, the prophets, and all the people, both small and great; he read in their hearing all the words of the book of the covenant that had been found in the house of the Lord. The king stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the Lord, to follow the Lord, keeping his commandments, his decrees, and his statutes, with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. All the people joined in the covenant.
This morning’s reading reminds me of the one about two fellas who were fishing in a boat under a bridge. One looked up and saw a funeral procession starting across the bridge. He stood up, took off his cap, and bowed his head. The procession crossed the bridge and the fella put on his cap, picked up his rod and reel, and continued fishing. The other fella said, “That was touching. I didn’t know you had it in you.” The first fella responded, “Well, I guess it was the right thing to do. After all, I was married to her for 40 years.”
Men can be pretty foolish in their priorities sometimes. That man should have put a little higher priority on attending his wife’s funeral than going fishing with his buddy. I understand, speaking as a man myself, that some situations are so overwhelming emotionally that men are just incapable of behaving appropriately. We simply don’t know how to respond so however we respond is going to come across inappropriate. Does that mean we should automatically be forgiven for our inappropriate responses? Just chock it up to men being dumb? Not necessarily. It means that we, as men, have some work to do in figuring out the appropriate responses to overwhelming situations. The burden is on us, not women. We can’t keep relying on the grace of women to help us get through overwhelming situations. Only God can provide adequate grace for life’s difficult situations. And besides, women need support and want to give support through such situations. They ought not be expected to simply dismiss the inappropriate behavior of men. Men need to grow up and figure out appropriate behavior already…sheesh!
Perhaps more accurately, men need to figure out right behavior and sooner rather than later. Believe it or not, there is right and wrong behavior in this world. I know that the moral compass of our society has been skewed for quite some time now and it doesn’t appear to be correcting itself, at least not quick enough. But that’s because we live in an immediate gratification society as well. We’ve lost our patience in naturally unfolding processes. We want immediate gratification, and we want it NOW! But guess what? That’s not how true gratification works. Nor is it how God works. No, God works much more deliberately and effectively. God’s way is slow but right. And who really cares how long something takes as long as it is the right way? Friends, in all ways, there is a right way and a wrong way, and we can be assured that God’s way is ALWAYS the right way. We need to slow down our way of doing things and focus on doing them the right way, not just the quickest way. Contrary to what the world thinks, life isn’t a destination, it’s a process. We need to stop being in such a hurry to get somewhere. We need to enjoy where we’re at and give thanks for all of God’s blessings in the here and the now.
Oooph…a little too much moralizing for a Sunday morning! I feel like the living book of Proverbs! And I DO NOT want to stand up here and spout maxims all morning! If you want advice on how to live, get in your Bibles, plain and simple. All you need to know for good living is found in there. Perhaps that’s the tie to our reading for this morning. King Josiah distinguished himself as a good king, as a king that “did what was right in the sight of the Lord,” by unearthing our hidden scriptures and pledging his loyalty and getting his people to pledge their loyalties to them. For a few weeks now, we’ve been exploring the words of some of God’s prophets that conveyed God’s dissatisfaction with his people. It’s the age-old cycle of God’s people. First, they get close to God and listen to his commandments but over time they fall away from him and his commands. God warns them to change their ways lest He punish them. Sometimes they change, sometimes they don’t. With our without his punishment, they get close to God once again and follow his commands until they eventually pull away again. Prophets were aware of this cycle and kings were as well. All throughout the books of 1 and 2 Kings, we hear of good kings and bad kings…kings who “did what was evil in the sight of the Lord” and kings who “did what was right in the sight of the Lord.” As I mentioned earlier, Josiah was considered of the good kings for having brought the wisdom of Scripture back to his people.
You see, the wisdom of Scripture is the right way of living. That’s because it’s God’s way of living. And Josiah’s good kingship is a foreshadow of the good kingship of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Even today, there are good and bad “kings” who reign over us, but we have the greatest king to have ever reigned still reigning over all of them. Jesus is the best king! He is the embodiment of the goodness of Scripture. He is the embodiment of the good life. Today, as we set out on our Advent journey, we first celebrate the kingship of our Lord, the best king of all. He is a king unlike any king, even King Josiah. And Scripture helps us understand the uniqueness of his kingship. In the book of John, we heard Jesus proclaim, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” (18:36) Jesus’ kingdom is not from this world and yet he reigns over this world. That’s because he reigns over our hearts. And his kingship was solidified by his resurrection as we hear Paul tell us in his letter to the Ephesians: “God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come.” (1:20-21)
In Jesus, all of us, men and women, can know the right way of doing things. It’s a no-brainer that we ought to claim him as our Lord and Savior. Let us celebrate his kingship over our lives and give thanks for his setting us right. And I’ll leave you with the encouraging words of Revelation, “And from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1:5-6) Thanks be to God!
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.