“‘Hear this now, O foolish people, without understanding, who have eyes and see not, and who have ears and hear not: Do you not fear Me?’ says the Lord… But this people has a defiant and rebellious heart; they have revolted and departed. They do not say in their heart, ‘Let us now fear the Lord our God.’”
The people are in complete rebellion against the Lord and disaster is upon them, but their leaders are saying, “Peace, peace! When there is no peace.” This is a message that the people want to hear instead of truth from the Lord. However, the truth is that the Lord is sending the Babylonians to destroy Judah because of their wickedness. Jerusalem will be punished because “She is full of oppression in her midst. As a fountain wells up with water, so she wells up with her wickedness. Violence and plundering are heard in her. Before Me continually are grief and wounds.”
The Lord tells the people that the only way for true peace and rest for their souls is to walk in His ways and not their own ways. But the people choose to ignore the ways of the Lord and instead walk in the ways of their evil hearts. Therefore, “Because they have not heeded My words nor My law, but rejected it”, an invasion is coming from the north, from Babylon. “They will lay hold on bow and spear; they are cruel and have no mercy; their voice roars like the sea; and they ride on horses, as men of war set in array against you, O daughter of Zion.”
One of the reasons that Judah has become so corrupt is that “the priests rule by their own power.” This is because they are ignoring the Book of the Law. When King Josiah is in his eighteenth year as king, he sends Hilkiah, the high priest, to the temple to count the money to be distributed to the overseers of the temple for repairs to the house of the Lord. And guess what Hilkiah finds?! The Book of the Law. I’m not sure what the priests were doing all this time, but they definitely weren’t reading and sharing God’s word.
Shaphan, the scribe, takes the Book of the Law to Josiah and reads it to him. When Josiah hears the word of God, he tears his clothes and tells Hilkiah, Shaphan, and others, “Go, inquire of the Lord for me, for the people and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found; for great is the wrath of the Lord that is aroused against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.”
So the men go to a woman named Huldah, the prophetess. And she gives the leaders a word from the Lord. She explains that the Lord will bring calamity on Judah because of their great rebellion. But as for King Josiah, “because 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… Surely, therefore, I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace; and your eyes shall not see all the calamity which I will bring on this place.”
Tomorrow Josiah reads the Book of the Law to all the people in Judah. We have seen throughout this story that every time the Book of the Law is elevated, a spiritual revival occurs — and we will see it happen again in tomorrow’s reading. So keep reading. (Jeremiah 5:20-6:30, 2 Kings 22:3-20, 2 Chronicles 34:8-28)