“[B]ecause your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before the LORD when you heard what I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants, that they would become a desolation and a curse, and you tore your clothes and wept before Me, I also have heard you,” says the LORD. (2 Kgs 22:19)
There is a saying that goes, “The heavens will not be filled with those who never made mistakes but with those who recognized that they were off course and who corrected their ways to get back in the light of gospel truth.”
In a nutshell, this quotes reminds us of our need to repent. There is not a single person on earth who will never make any mistake. Likewise, the Bible tells us that, “[t]here is none righteous, no, not one” (Rom 3:10). In fact, we often fall short of God’s expectations and even disappoint Him or make Him angry. Yet how often do we realize that we have sinned against God? How often do we truly repent?
King Josiah was a man who understood the meaning of true repentance. When the Book of the Law was found in the temple during renovation works and read to the king, he immediately tore his clothesa manifestation of grief for the sins that Israel had committed.
Josiah immediately realized that he and his people had sinned against the Lord, for he had listened attentively and humbly to God’s word.
Sometimes, we do listen to God’s word, but it does not speak to us because we lack the right attitude. The underlying problem here is our (sometimes hidden) pride: we might think that we have already heard the same teaching umpteen times, or we might feel that we don’t really need the word of God, because our life seems to be so smooth. Yet if we understand that we need God’s word just as much as our daily bread, we will be more humble and attentive to the word of God. This will then create the right conditions for the truth to enter into and grow in our hearts.
But King Josiah did not stop at grieving. If we read 2 Kings 23, we learn that he removed all idols and their altars and shrines from the temple of the Lord, from the high places, and from every household in Israel. He also removed the spiritists, mediums, and all the perverted persons who practiced sexual immorality as part of their idol worship.
Last but not least, he re-instituted the Passover feast.
This is true repentance.
King Josiah truly put off the old man of sin and put on the new man, made after God in true holiness and righteousness.
Today, we, like the Israelites, need to move from complete ignorance to our own sins to true repentance. Don’t wait until God strikes us because He can’t bear our sins anymore. Don’t just stop at weeping over our sins. Instead, we must ask the Lord to help us humble ourselves before Him. Ask Him to open our eyes to see how weak and sinful we are. Ask Him to help us overcome our old sinful self and to truly be a doer of His word.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Cor 5:17)