Summary: God addresses sin through judgment and mercy.

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First Presbyterian Church

Wichita Falls, Texas

May 1, 2011



Isaac Butterworth

2 Kings 22:1-3, 8, 10-12a, 13-17; 23:1-3 (NIV)

1 Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years.... 2 He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and walked in all the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left.

3 In the eighteenth year of his reign, King Josiah sent the secretary, the temple of the LORD....

8 Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the temple of the LORD.” He gave it to Shaphan, who read it....

10 Then Shaphan the secretary informed the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read from it in the presence of the king.

11 When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes. 12 He gave these orders...

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 our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us.”

14 [His servants] went to speak to the prophetess Huldah, who...15 said to them..., 16 “This is what the LORD says: I am going to bring disaster on this place and its people, according to everything written in the book the king of Judah has read. 17 Because they have forsaken me and burned incense to other gods and provoked me to anger by all the idols their hands have made, my anger will burn against this place and will not be quenched.

18 Tell the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the LORD..., 19 Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the LORD when you heard what I have spoken against this place and its people, that they would become accursed and laid waste, and because you tore your robes and wept in my presence, I have heard you, declares the LORD.

23:1 Then the king called together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. 2 He went up to the temple of the LORD with the men of Judah, the people of Jerusalem, the priests and the prophets—all the people from the least to the greatest. He read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant, which had been found in the temple of the LORD. 3 The king stood by the pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the LORD—to follow the LORD and keep his commands, regulations and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, thus confirming the words of the covenant written in this book. Then all the people pledged themselves to the covenant.

Let me tell you about an unpleasant dream I have from time to time. In the dream, I’m back at school. It’s close to the end of the semester. And I discover to my alarm that there’s a class for which I signed up but never went to. Somehow, I forgot about it. Until now. And with finals bearing down on me, I am gripped with the fear that I will fail the course. Do you ever have a dream like that? There’s something you’ve been supposed to do, but you’ve forgotten it. And now you suddenly remember -- likely, too late to do anything about it. And you are filled with dread.

For King Josiah, it wasn’t a dream. Some folks were cleaning out the church, and they found what was apparently the only copy of the Bible they had. Somehow, it had gotten misplaced, but now they discovered it. They brought the book to Josiah, and he had them read it to him. And, when they did, it was like a nightmare.

Josiah was afraid. Whether it was out of negligence or ignorance or sheer stubbornness, he didn’t know. But what he realized was that he and all the people of the kingdom had failed to do what the Bible said was required.

Now, at this point, it may have seemed to a lot of people that it would have been better if they hadn’t found the book in the first place. It caused so much disruption and anguish. Better not to stir things up. Let sleeping dogs lie. What you don’t know can’t hurt you. Why borrow trouble? All those sorts of things, no doubt, went through their minds. But despite the terror that seized everyone, could it be that this ‘find’ was a blessing in disguise? When you and I go to the doctor, we don’t want our physician to find anything wrong. But if they do -- and if it can be treated -- isn’t it better to know? Nobody wants termites, but if you have them, isn’t it better to find out than simply to live in denial?

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