As I have noted in several previous posts, I am currently doing a read-through of the Old Testament as my daily devotional time. This morning, I finished the book of 2 Kings. If you are looking for a book with a happy ending, 2 Kings is not it. Chapter 25 (last chapter in the book) is truly sad as it describes the fall of the kingdom of Judah and the final piece in the exile of the people into the Babylonian empire.
Its doubly sad because this section follows one of the most uplifting portions of 2 Kings (chapters 22 and 23). These chapters detail the reign of King Josiah of Judah. Josiah comes to power after a litany of kings who chose to not walk in God’s way and he makes a major shift.
Chapter 22 begins in this way (Message translation)
Josiah was eight years old when he became king. He ruled for thirty-one years in Jerusalem…He lived the way God wanted. He kept straight on the path blazed by his ancestor David, not one step to either left or right.
The rest of chapters 22 and 23 detail the steps that Josiah took to move the people out of the worship of the false gods to the worship of the one God of their ancestors and of they themselves.
As I have been reading through 1 and 2 Kings and reading over and over the ways that the kings of the Israelite and Judean peoples walked away from the God who led them out of Egypt, I am struck by the many “gods” we have in our lives that we give precedence or full authority to. You can insert the gods of this life here (money, success, status, sex, power, and so many others), but Josiah’s example shows that there needs to be the centrality of God in our lives and that there is cost to what it means to be a disciple of Christ in this world.
One of Dietrich Bonhoeffer‘s most famous quotes comes from his book, The Cost of Discipleship, when he says that “When Christ calls [a person] he bids them come and die.” Bonhoeffer was talking about the radical cost of following God in life. That it means we are willing to give over control of our entire selves and our entire lives to the will of God in our life.
Its not easy to do and its not something that I (or really anyone) has down pat, but is instead a continual process of turning ourselves over to God time after time, day after day, moment after moment. May God grant us the courage, strength, and wisdom to faithfully live in this way each day.