I thought my “Bible Heroes” sermon series, which focused on faithful heroes of the Old Testament, reached a rousing climax last Sunday with my sermon on Josiah. (I’ll post the sermon soon.) What impresses me most about Josiah’s comprehensive reforms in what remained of Israel was this: he renewed his people’s covenant with God and implemented these costly reforms after he found out that his nation was doomed. In other words, nothing he did or didn’t do would avert God’s wrath against Judah. His nation was going to be destroyed; it was only a question of when. So Josiah chose to fight an uphill battle for the sake of a lost cause. But he did it anyway—because it was the right thing to do. When Josiah had nothing to gain in return, he remained faithful to God.
His courage resonates with me in part because, as I’ve said before, I’m not like him!
I’m not like him because I know the answer to the question that Satan asked of Job, which was also the question at the heart of Abraham’s test when he lifted the knife to his son Isaac: At my sinful worst, I don’t serve God for nothing. I expect God to give me something in return for my sacrifices. I expect to be successful by the world’s standards. I expect the admiration of my colleagues. I expect gratitude from the people I serve. I expect self-respect. God owes me these things, right?
Meanwhile, Abraham and Josiah are content to serve God for nothing. With them there is no quid pro quo.
Lord, make me like them!