A couple of months ago I was reading 2 Kings 22 about young King Josiah. He became king when he was just eight years old and he didn’t exactly grow up in a ‘Christian’ home. His dad Amon and Grandpa Manasseh were among the most wicked kings to ever rule Judah.
He started a renovation project in the temple when he was eighteen and while they were cleaning up they found, “the book of the Law.” ( 2 Kings 22: 8 ) When Josiah heard it read ou tloud he was ashamed of himself and his people.
He tore his robes and desperately inquired of God about what to do. He cleaned all the idols out of the temple and shut down the prostitution ring that operated out of there. Just hearing this book for the first time transformed Josiah and ultimately the nation he led. What was it that he heard?I read a couple of commentaries that speculated that what was found was the book of Deuteronomy. Whether in whole or in part, Deuteronomy was the book that started a spiritual revival in Judah in the 7th Century BC. So that’s how I started reading Deuteronomy every day.
Three or four mornings a week I read a chapter of Deuteronomy and tried to imagine what it was that arrested this king in such a profound way. In brief here is a couple of things I have wondered:
- I wonder if Josiah had parts of this book he totally didn’t understand like I do. Did he know why he had to put four tassels on his cloak? (Deut 22: 12) No mixing seeds? (Deut 22: 9) Don’t cook a young goat in it’s mother’s milk? (Deut 14: 21)
- Did he find the whole marrying your sister-in-law thing (Deut. 25: 5-10) as gross as I do?
- Where did it first break his heart? Was it when the people rejected God weeks after being delivered from bondage? (Deut 1: 32) Was it the list of undeserved blessings in Deut 6?
- When did Josiah realized both he and his people were it big trouble? Was it God’s hatred of idols? (Deut 4) The Ten Commandments? (Deut 5)
One of the big themes I saw in the book was the inscrutability of God. Sometimes He just can’t be understood. There are parts of the book I understand and then others that I don’t know what to do with. Overlaid on top of that is God’s compassion for the needy while at the same time being fearsome against the wicked. God commands that Israelites give the women they capture time to grieve their lost sons and husbands. This is gentle and compassionate but at the same time, take a step back and realize what’s going on here. Isn’t this ethinic cleansing? How can God be O.K. with that?
God’s wrath is fearsome and terrifying; and His compassion is mysterious too. I can see Deuteronomy mostly as a category breaker. If you understand who is behind this book, everything changes. You can’t go on living like you have. God doesn’t just influence or inform your decisions. God completely dominates your existence.
I am still not sure where to go from here.