Wednesday 23 June 2010

Bible Book:
2 Kings

"The king stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the Lord, to follow the Lord, keeping his commandments, his decrees, and his statutes, with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. All the people joined in the covenant." (23:3)

2 Kings 22:8-13; 23:1-3 Wednesday 23 June 2010


Religion and faith always need reform and renewal. 'First love'has to be re-kindled. Familiarity too easily becomes mere habit andsometimes leads to contempt. Reform can be about restoring what hasbeen lost or forgotten - that seems to be at the heart of Josiah'sdiscovery. Can reform also be about discovering somethingnew?

Josiah was king of Judah from 640-609 BC. He is a great 'reforming'king and the dramatic discovery of a book in the Temple spurs andshapes his reforms. Most scholars believe that what was discoveredwas some form of the Old Testament book now calledDeuteronomy.

The discovery is timely. The world is changing; the kingdom ofJudah has a brief window of freedom from external powers; it is atime for new vision and hope, perhaps even for re-unification ofthe divided nation of Israel. Josiah's reforms are not justspiritual but social and political.

More clearly than ever before the book of Deuteronomy shows theconnections. This is not a new law but it has never been understoodor seen this way before. Israel can only flourish as a nation and asociety if it keeps the covenant God made with Moses; if it doesnot, and when it does not, Israel is doomed. Deuteronomy is bothold and new: a restoration and a revolution.

Note the new prominence of the suggestion of the word 'if' ... Ifyou obey, if you are faithful, if you turn to God you willflourish. If you do not, only bad things will come. The step isonly a short one from here to our dangerous desire to bargain withGod, our even more destructive tendency to judge other's misfortuneas the result of their wrongdoing. This book of the law leadsdangerously to the question put to Jesus about the man born blind -"Who sinned, this man or his parents?" (John 9:2). It leads us tothe question: Why then do bad things happen to good people?

To Ponder

Have you ever bargained with God? How is acovenant different from a bargain?

The book of Deuteronomy helps connect thespiritual and the political. What kind of discovery or reform do weneed that will enable us to connect our faith with a crisis, suchas global warming?

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