by Graham Mol
In 2 Kings chapter 22 we find the story of Josiah, king of Judah. Josiah was a king who did what was right in the eyes of the Lord. He sought after God and worked to undo much of the evil that had been done under his father’s and especially his grandfather’s reign as king. He took down many of altars to false gods and destroyed the idols. He also initiated repairs on the temple in Jerusalem during which the Book of the Law was found, that is the Pentateuch which includes Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. What this implies is that under the reign of the wicked and wayward kings, the Law of God was not wholly observed. Now that the book was found it was read out to the king who was deeply convicted and grieved because of the sin of the nation.
11 When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes. 12 He gave these orders to Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Akbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the secretary and Asaiah the king’s attendant: 13 “Go and inquire of the Lord for me and for the people and for all Judah about what is written in this book that has been found. Great is the Lord’s anger that burns against us because those who have gone before us have not obeyed the words of this book; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us.” (2 Kings 22:11-13)
It was when the Law was read out to him that Josiah saw clearly how sinful the nation had become. Although I’m sure he knew that the people were not perfect, their idolatry was apparent, he may have thought that it wasn’t too bad. Only in comparison to the commandments and standards of how God’s people should live did it become clear just how short they fell in reaching that mark.
Sometimes it’s the same with us. We have a picture of ourselves in our minds, an impression of how we are, how we are doing as followers of Christ. This impression or picture is not always that realistic. When we read the Bible, when we read God’s Law, it is like looking in a mirror that shows us the honest truth. I came across an article at thehopeproject.com that really brings this point across well:
As we study the Bible, we learn that the Law is like a mirror – for both God and man. In the Law, we see a true reflection of God’s character. That reflection reveals that God is holy and righteous. But in the Law, we also see a true image of ourselves. Our inability to keep the Law reveals our inadequacy, for the Law clearly reveals that we do not measure up to God’s standard of holiness and righteousness. Something in us prevents us from measuring up, and according to Romans 3:20, that something is sin.
A mirror can be helpful to show you if your face needs washing. But it cannot be used to wash your face. No one in their right mind would take a mirror and rub it on their face to remove dirt. That requires a cleansing agent such as soap. So it is with the Law. The Law reveals sin, but it is not a cleansing agent. It cannot cleanse us from sin, but it can show us our need to be cleansed. It can create a sense of need for the promised Deliverer, the only One who can take away sin!
I love that insight that the Bible both reflects God’s true character and ours. It highlights why it is so important to read the Bible. But it is also not enough to merely read the Bible, we need to apply the insights and truths and standards that it gives us. Otherwise we become like the man James speaks of in his letter, the one who looks in the mirror sees himself and then when we goes away immediately forgets what he looks like (James 1:22-25). It is when we truly see how we are, how short we fall of the glory of God, that we can turn to Jesus who delivers us from our sin.
This too is a lesson we can learn from Josiah as the Lord said to him:
19 “Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I have spoken against this place and its people—that they would become a curse and be laid waste—and because you tore your robes and wept in my presence, I also have heard you, declares the Lord. 20 Therefore I will gather you to your ancestors, and you will be buried in peace. Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place.” (2 Kings 22:19-20)
Let us intently and humbly, with open hearts, look into God’s mirror so that we can see the truth about God and about us.