“And the king stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of his covenant that were written in this book.” – 2 Kings 23:3
I love Josiah. He is one of my favorite characters found in the Bible.
He’s a boy.
He’s a king.
He lives his life the way he saw his father do it.
Then one day, everything changes. Hilkiah, the high priest, gives the Book of the Law to Shaphan, the king’s secretary, who in turns reads it to Josiah, the king. “When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes.” (2 Ki 22:11). Josiah, upon hearing the word of the Lord, tore his clothes. He was devastated. He could see that both he and the kingdom of Judah were falling well short of what God required.
He repented and sought understanding of what he should do, what would happen.
Through Huldah the prophetess, the Lord tells Hilkiah the priest and several others to relay to the king what He planned to do, destroy Judah because of their provocation of His wrath.
But, God “heard” Josiah. God was aware of Josiah’s penitent heart and promises to gather him home before His judgment comes.
And what is Josiah’s response?
Josiah’s response is to promise to serve the Lord, but it’s really more than a promise. Josiah, the boy king – now 26 years old, makes a covenant, publicly, to serve God. Old Testament tradition tells us that a covenant was a binding “contract” of sorts, one that was typically sealed with the blood of a sacrifice. The sacrifice, the spilling of blood, was a statement of, “Let the same be done to me if I break this covenant”.
Josiah wasn’t making an ordinary promise. He wasn’t “crossing his heart”. He wasn’t pinky-swearing. He made a covenant to keep God’s testimonies, his statutes, and his commandments. He said, “God, if I don’t keep my end of the deal, I am worthy of death by Your hand.”
I doubt the modern Christian gives that much thought.
In fact, I’m fairly certain that the 21st Century Christian thinks little of the concept of a covenant. We talk about it like we get it, but I’m not sure that we do.
Interestingly, We are members of the new covenant, the covenant written in Jesus’ blood. Jesus was the sacrifice that created the covenant. What exactly is the Christian’s end of the agreement? Accepting the sacrifice of Jesus to enter into the covenant with God. That’s step one, but then what next?
By accepting the terms of the agreement, Jesus’ blood, you now submit yourself to be ruled by this covenant.
So, how good is this covenant?
“I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God and they will be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” – Jeremiah 31:33-34
This is the promise of God. God promises to write His law on your heart. God promises to forgive your willful sinful nature. God promises to forget the sins of your past. This is what you enter into when you accept Jesus. His death alone ushers you into this agreement.
But no covenant is a one way street.
God promises this, and your side of the bargain is to keep the commandments, statutes, and testimonies of God. Your obedience doesn’t earn God’s favor, but it is proof of your commitment to the covenant of the cross.
The cross is of surpassing worth because the One who died upon it is of surpassing worth. Jesus went willingly to seal the covenant promise of God found in Jeremiah 31.
So how much do you value the the cross?