When our Best is Not Good Enough
Josiah (read 2 Chronicles 33-35) is a fitting conclusion to our quest to “start well and finish well!” He is the superlative king, equal to David and as good as Moses. Other kings developed the keystone habit of seeking the Lord and devotion to the house of God, but he was a real stand out. He didn’t only ‘cleanse’ the land from idols in a massive spring cleaning effort, he applied the equivalent of turpentine to a culture stained by chronic rebellion against God’s Word (“purging” is the word). He was precocious in his devotion to God, a 3rd grader who turned king. While a sophomore in High School he began to seek the Lord his God and embarked on a great reform to turn God’s people back to Him. When he was a sophomore in college, he led a nationwide capital campaign to restore the building of the temple. Due to rampant idolatry, the house of God had been neglected and was in urgent needs of repair. He intended to fix that.
It’s in the context of this renovation project that the turning point in his life occurred. In the midst of the repairs, a scroll (the Bible App of ancient times) was found. This document contained Deuteronomy, God’s prescription for wholesome living in His land in the Old Testament. When the book is read to him, his reaction is startling: he tears his clothes in a sign of deep repentance. This heart attitude reminds us of David whose heart was contrite when confronted with the conviction of the Word of God in his life (Psalm 51:17). As a result, he had everyone gathered (“great and small”) for a reading of the Scroll and made the people commit to serving the Lord (just like Moses had done before him). He did all he could to turn God’s people around to love God and serve Him. In fact, he loved God and His Word “with all his heart and soul.” He was just about perfect.
But then, after many years of great success and faithfulness, something went wrong. He interfered in matters he shouldn’t have. The Bible is so brutally honest about this. He didn’t listen to the voice of God and paid the ultimate price for his disobedience (2 Chronicles 35:22). So even a guy like Josiah didn’t finish well! The obvious conclusion is the experiment of having human kings run God’s people has failed. Even the best king’s best effort fell short. God knew that and so He decided to come Himself to run our affairs. He Himself came as the King of Kings to rule over us with righteousness and full obedience to the voice of God. Even Josiah couldn’t pull it off, but Jesus does. This is why we worship Him and follow Him. Our best will never be good enough but His will be. He is the author and finisher of our faith. As we set our eyes on Him, by faith we abide in the One who has run the race and succeeded. He lives forever. Through His death and resurrection, He has conquered sin, death and the devil, overcoming on our behalf our innate inability to obey God (Isaiah 53:4-6; Isaiah 53:12; Romans 8:1-4).
Reflection for the week:
As we approach Holy Week, we turn to Him and Him alone. He is The One who will never leave us nor forsake us. Maybe we delude ourselves into thinking our best will be good enough. The life of Josiah is a stark and brutal reality check that even the darling golden boy couldn’t cut it in the end. Paul puts it this way: “we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory.” The sooner you and I realize we won’t have a perfect record, the sooner we will turn our eyes to the One who does and join in singing, “Not the labor of my hands can fulfill thy Law’s demands, Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee.” This is how you and I will finish well. Nothing will separate us from the love of God, not even death, nor anything that life throws at us, including our own shortcomings (Romans 8:31-39).