It seemed like revival was in full swing. God’s Law had been rediscovered, and Judah’s King Josiah swiftly instituted reforms in line with God’s Word (2 Chronicles 34:14-35:19; 2 Kings 22:8-23:27). We read in 2 Chronicles 34:31-33, “31 Then the king stood in his place 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 with all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant written in this book. 32 Moreover, he made all who were present in Jerusalem and Benjamin to stand with him. So the inhabitants of Jerusalem did according to the covenant of God, the God of their fathers. 33 Josiah removed all the abominations from all the lands belonging to the sons of Israel, and made all who were present in Israel to serve the Lord their God. Throughout his lifetime they did not turn from following the Lord God of their fathers.”
Notice that Josiah’s heart was right with the Lord (v. 31), but also notice that the rest of Judah had to be made to follow the Lord by King Josiah (vv. 32-33). This could simply mean that Josiah led the way, but in Jeremiah 3:6-10 we learn that Judah’s heart wasn’t right with the Lord during the time of Josiah’s reformation. Jeremiah 3:6-10 says, “6 Then the Lord said to me in the days of Josiah the king, “Have you seen what faithless Israel did? She went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and she was a harlot there. 7 “I thought, ‘After she has done all these things she will return to Me’; but she did not return, and her treacherous sister Judah saw it. 8 “And I saw that for all the adulteries of faithless Israel, I had sent her away and given her a writ of divorce, yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear; but she went and was a harlot also. 9 “Because of the lightness of her harlotry, she polluted the land and committed adultery with stones and trees. 10 “Yet in spite of all this her treacherous sister Judah did not return to Me with all her heart, but rather in deception,” declares the Lord.”
Judah had witnessed the apostasy of Israel, and Judah had witnessed God’s judgment come down on that kingdom. Even so, Judah had not repented of its own apostasy but had only pretended to do so. It had repented in deception (v. 10) in the days of Josiah the king (v. 6).
The Lord knows our sin. He knows our need for repentance. He knows when we have repented from the heart and when we’ve repented in deception. And we can be sure that our sins will find us out (Numbers 32:23).
Praise be to God for the gift of genuine repentance in Jesus Christ! As we trust in Jesus, our hearts are made new and our repentance is not mere lip-service but is a sign of true heart-transformation. The one who has trusted Jesus and follows Him closely hates sin from the heart and so repents from the heart.
Brothers and Sisters in Christ, let our repentance be genuine! Let our repentance be from the heart! Let’s gladly follow our King Jesus into every obedience to God’s Word!
What sins must we repent of right now? What reforms according to God’s Word are necessary for our lives? Let’s make sure that repentance and those reforms start in our hearts. Only then will repentance be genuine.