READ: 2 Chronicles 34-36, Psalm 138, Luke 5, 1 Peter 5
THE END IS NEAR
Josiah reigns in Judah and ushers in radical reforms. He attacks idolatry with fury: breaks, cuts down, makes into dust, scatters, burns, breaks down, beats into powder, cuts down, with swords, all relics, people, and rituals associated with pagan worship (2 Chron. 34:4-7). After finding the lost book of the law, Josiah inquires from a godly woman (Huldah, the prophetess, is a great example of spiritual leadership by a woman in the Old Testament), who tells him that despite his zeal it is too late. The people of Israel have been so wicked for so long that God’s “wrath will be poured out on this place, and not be quenched” (v. 25). A few kings later this final destiny is assured for the nation had “mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, till there was no remedy” (36:16, emphasis added). There is a point of no return; even a God with infinite patience is required by His holiness to have a limit to what He overlooks.
Cartoonists have long marked the crazed prophet who walks the streets with signs pronouncing the end of the world. Problem is, they are right–the prophets that is. Every day brings us closer to cosmic judgment. It is foolish theology that claims we will clean up this world and present it sparkling to our returning King. Despite all the external advances of man, the hearts of humans continue to mock, despise, and scoff at Jesus–and there is no remedy. Jesus is coming in furious glory and our only hope is if we are sheltered from His wrath by the blood of Jesus.
Josiah’s example helps us tremendously here. God tells him: “Because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before God when you heard His words against this place and against its inhabitants, and you humbled yourself before Me, and you tore your clothes and wept before Me, I also have heard you…Surely I will gather you to your grave in peace” (34:27-28).
Psalm 138:6 reminds us that God regards the lowly (while distancing Himself from the proud) and 1 Peter 5:5 cautions that God resists the proud while giving grace to the humble. It behooves us to advance to the end of this earth with humility, a tender heart, and anguish over God’s judgment. There are two equal and opposite errors: We can ignore the fact that judgment looms and naively think we will preserve this perishing world, or we can almost relish the fact that God is going to disastrously return with eternal, violent conquest of evil. Josiah’s example compels us to continue to attack evil wherever we find it; the Word of the Lord reminds us that evil has gone too far and there is no remedy.
The end is upon us. God is looking for those who anticipate the final temporal act of God with great anguish and great hope. Only this humble sorrow protects us from the wrath to come. We work furiously to the end–hoping to save one more brand from the burning–even while we long for the end to come and to be gathered to our rest.