The Readings for the 12th Wednesday Tempus per Annum
I have found the book of the law in the temple of the LORD.II Kings 22:8 (NABRE)
WE TEND TO IMAGINE ancient Israel as something like a theocracy under Jewish Law: everyone being faithful to one degree or another, over time the culture drifting away or coming back. But, generally, you know, Jewish, or – at least – Jew-ish most of the time from Moses until Jesus. But the Bible is filled with stories of not very Jewish things – or even very Jew-ish things. And there are suprises, like today’s reading from the reign of King Yoshiyahu (Josiah), whose name means “Yah (YHVH) Supports” when they find the “Book of the Law” hidden in the Temple. If you open your Bible to II Kings and read Chapters 22 and 23, you may be surprised to find out what was in the Temple of the Lord that was destroyed.
[R]emove from the temple of the LORD all the objects that had been made for Baal, Asherah, and the whole host of heaven… an end to the idolatrous priests who burn incense on the high places in the cities of Judah and in the vicinity of Jerusalem, as well as those who burned incense to Baal, to the sun, moon, and signs of the zodiac, and to the whole host of heaven. From the house of the LORD he also removed the Asherah…He tore down the apartments of the cult prostitutes in the house of the LORD, where the women wove garments for the Asherah.From II Kings 23:4-7
The Temple in Jerusalem was quite the little New Age bookstore, yes? God’s own house was even being used by Temple Prostitutes like any heathen shrine in much of the world.
Yoshiyahu went on to purge pagan practices from all over Judah. And then he had the people celebreate the Passover. And catch this:
No Passover such as this had been observed during the period when the judges ruled Israel, or during the entire period of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah, until the eighteenth year of King Josiah, when this Passover of the LORD was kept in Jerusalem.II Kings 23:22-23
The important thing to note is that Passover has not been observed since about 1382 BC (when the Judges are estimated to have started) though the kings until Josias (who is estimated to have reigned c. 649-609 BC. So, nearly 800 years with no Passover celebration: the very mark of Jewish liberation – and one of the main parts of Jewish tradition that Christians bring forward as Easter. This was not at all a thing. David never did it. None of the Judges. Solomon didn’t.
You want to ask what were they doing all this time?
I don’t know at all.
And the interesting thing is that the compilers of the Hebrew Scriptures left this confession of their sin in the text for us all to see and read – and ponder over.
How far had Israel’s Children strayed – not observing even the basics of their religion for eight centuries? And yet, for all that long had God been merciful to them and not destroyed them at all.
Jesus says of false prophets, “By their fruit you shall know them.” Some fruits take 800 years to manifest. This comes after “not judging” and “pearls before swine” etc. Can we bear the sins of those with whom God is being merciful at least as long as God bears them?
How long has God supported your sins and yet not destroyed you? Can you repent like the People of Judah? There is time now.