A few weeks back I was reading through 2 Chronicles with the Moravian Daily Texts. Even as a history buff Chronicles is pretty boring. Nothing much was catching my eye until I came across the story of King Zedekiah in 2 Chronicles 36:11-14. Zedekiah begins to rule and “does evil in the eyes of the Lord.” It goes on to say, “He became stiff-necked and hardened his heart.” All of that is pretty typical for these kings.
But what struck me about this passage came in verse 14, “Furthermore, all the leaders of the priests and the people became more and more unfaithful, following all the detestable practices of the nations and defiling the temple of the Lord…” King Zedekiah’s unfaithfulness led to increased unfaithfulness by the people of Judah. As goes the king, so goes the nation. The people imitated the king’s evil ways.
But the opposite can also be true. 2 Chronicles 34 details the life of King Josiah (a few kings before Zedekiah). Josiah came to the throne as boy. When he was a teenager, he began to seek after God. That seeking was a long journey, but eventually he began to reform the practices of the kingdom so the people would once again follow the commands of God with all their heart and soul.
In 2 Chronicles 34:33 a fascinating connection is revealed that shows the impact the king’s seeking after God had on the king’s people. “Josiah removed all the detestable idols from all the territory belonging to the Israelites, and he had all who were present in Israel serve the Lord their God. As long as he lived, they did not fail to follow the Lord the God of their ancestors.”
There was a direct correlation between the King’s pursuit of God and that of the people. When Josiah discovered how his kingdom had fallen away from the commands of God, he humbled himself and sought after God’s mercy. The king followed after God and the whole community followed his lead.
Is your life worthy of imitation?
The truth is, we all have traces of Zedekiah and Josiah in us…we’re all simultaneously sinner and saint. But that shouldn’t keep us from seeking after God. Through Jesus we have the promise that God is moving into the neighborhood and is taking form with us and in us. Can we accept that gift in humility and testify through our lives what it looks like to be a follower of Jesus?