Readings: 2 Kings 22:3-20, 2 Chronicles 34:8-28
If you are following along you may have noticed that I skipped a day. I barely kept my Lenten commitment. Instead, I had to ask God to take care of me yesterday. I had nothing to give, nothing to share, and nothing to say. He kept me focused on the task at hand, keeping me distracted until I went to the doctor this morning. I’m having surgery six weeks from today. Something I have been trying to milk along for a year now thanks to covid, but is only getting worse instead of better. The recovery will be 4 – 6 months. Part of me is excited because I have high hopes of a full recovery and getting out and seeing the world that I miss and feeling strong again. I have felt weak for a while now. Luckily very little was asked of me during these months of isolation. But now I have so much to look forward to, a wedding in 2022, trips to plan ( maybe even a visit to the promised land when all of this is over), and weight to lose after being less active these last 12 months. I’m ready to start new. Which is a good lead into our story.
The people of Judah while cleaning the temple, initiating new reforms instilled by their king, found the old book of the law. It’s odd. It never dawned on me before that they didn’t have it. I’m so dependent on God’s Word to lead me in the right direction, that I can not even fathom having to navigate life without it. But I guess that’s what they were doing. “When the king heard what was written in the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes in despair. ……We have not been doing everything it says we must do.” 2 Kings 22: 11 & 13b. This just blows me away. God speaking through prophets, God leading Josiah in his ways, and what did they have to go by? Very little. I guess that’s why the words of the prophets were so influential during these times, Isaiah whispering God’s words in the ears of Hezekiah. And in our readings today, Josiah sends his priest to inquire of a prophet to understand the words written in the scrolls they had found.
Josiah’s priest does turn to the advice of a prophet, a prophetess non the less. The great prophetess Huldah! Scripture states that she “lived in the New Quarter of Jerusalem, which was separated into 4 quadrants. She lived in the second one, where the temple was also located. She most likely lived close to both the palace and the temple.” (1) Interestingly today Jerusalem is still divided into quarters, four quarters: Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Armenian.
Huldah the prophet states, “all the words written in the scrolls that the King of Judah has read will come true”. (2 Kings 22:16) Within these scrolls must have been more than just the book of Deuteronomy or Leviticus. Maybe a little Amos there too, a prophet that foretold the fate of Israel. But the most beautiful part of her prophecy, as told from the mouth of a woman, was her description of the fate of our beloved King. She gave a prophecy true to the heart of a woman. She leads in with despair but finishes with promises. She sees beyond the King’s authority. God allows her to see his humbleness, his tears. “You were sorry and humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I said against this city and its people, that this land would be cursed and become desolate. You tore your clothing in despair and wept before me in repentance. And I have indeed heard you, says the Lord.” A young man of 26 now in tears of repentance. She had watched him grow up next door, a boy of only eight being thrown into this authoritarian role. God allowed her to see his heart. Was she a mother too?
God’s promise to Josiah, should send us all to our knees. “I have indeed heard you, says the Lord. So I will not send the promised disaster until after you have died and been buried in peace. You will not see the disaster I am going to bring on this city. ” He is a God, that sees our repentant hearts. He hears our cries. And He sometimes changes his mind.