“When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes…’Go inquire of the Lord for me and 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 our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book; they have acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us.’” 2 Kings 22: 11,13
“The king stood by the pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the Lord – to follow the Lord and keep his commands, regulations, and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, thus confirming the words of the covenant written in this book. Then all the people pledged themselves to the covenant.” 2 Kings 23:3
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” James 1:22
This never happens in the Warner household, but on occasion I hear stories of children who do not listen to their parents. Sometimes parents will repeat themselves over and over and over and over again, yet still children will not respond and follow their parents’ instructions. Of course I’m kidding; this situation may have even played out Wednesday morning in our house. What usually happens next is the parent gets upset with the child and maybe even punishes the child. Let’s say for example this child loses the use of an Ipad for two days (just hypothetically speaking of course). The child gets upset and usually the final conversation ends with “If you had just listened the first time you would not be getting punished, right now.”
The situation was similar for the people of Judah during the time of Second Kings. This is during the time of the divided Kingdom and Judah is constantly running into issues for falling away from the Lord and not listening to His Words. Similar to the situation in Judges that was written about last week.
During the reign of King Josiah, there is construction going on at the Temple, in Judah. The workers find the Book of the Law, which apparently had been lost. King Josiah has the Law read out loud to him and he immediately realizes that the nation has not been following and keeping the Lord’s instructions. In chapter twenty three he gathers the nation and has the whole Law read to the people. When hearing the Law, King Josiah and all the people pledge to follow the Law completely, to listen and follow what it says.
James in our section for this week is going to lay out a very simple instruction, yet we know how hard it can really be. James says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” This could almost be a direct quote to the previously mentioned child, but in reality it’s a command from God to His people. I get frustrated when my kids do not listen to me, but in the same way I know I can frustrate God when I act in a way that goes against His Word.
Some of what the Bible says: Be quick to listen, slow to speak; get rid of all moral filth, and evil; keep tight rein on your tongue; be humble; love your enemies; be in fellowship with believers; care for the poor and weak; flee sexual immorality; meditate on His Word. That’s just a small list of all that God wants from us. Are we ignoring God and not doing what His Word says? That is a challenge we all face. Let’s be obedient to God’s Word, and like the nation of Judah, pledge to follow His instruction. The challenge is great, but that it is why we are a fellowship of believers, helping to encourage, and strengthen each other to become more like Christ in following our heavenly Father.