When Michael and I taught 1 & 2 Kings last month (was it already last month?!), I had initially planned to speak on the kings’ successes/failures (usually failures) in trusting God. There are few examples of kings trusting God. One that comes to mind is Hezekiah, king of Judah, and even this example is not perfect. In 2 Kings 18-19, we read of how Sennacherib, king of Assyria, came “against all the fortified cities of Judah and took them” (2 Kings 18:13). Though Hezekiah’s initial response was not a demonstration of trusting in God, he eventually turned to the Lord by sending to the prophet Isaiah concerning his predicament. Isaiah reassured Hezekiah, telling the king that God was going to put a spirit in the king of Assyria so that he would hear a rumor and return to his own land, where he would fall by the sword (19:7). Hezekiah trusts in this word from the Lord, and despite the threats of Sennacherib, the Lord defends the city of Jerusalem. The predictions concerning Sennacherib come true (2 Kings 19:35-37).
Another of the few examples we have of kings trusting in God, is king Josiah. Josiah was only eight years old when he took the throne (2 Kings 22). Eighteen years later (presumably when he was old enough to make national decisions!), we read of Josiah’s desire to repair the temple (2 Kings 22:3-7). Out of this initiative comes the finding of the Book of the Law. This book is read to Josiah, and Josiah is, to say the least, worried. You can only imagine the state Judah would have been in at this point if they have been missing the Book of the Law for so long that they wouldn’t be familiar with its contents! Some scholars think that this book could have been Deuteronomy. If that’s the case, Josiah would know the people were in trouble. Take a moment to read Deuteronomy 28, and you’ll understand what I mean; this chapter outlines the blessings that come from following the Law, and the curses that are promised if the Law is not followed. If there’s any doubt as to which category Judah falls in at this point, simply read 2 Kings 23. This chapter is filled with Josiah’s reforms – the changes he makes to the nation as a response to the book that was found. The king rids the land of vessels made for Baal, for Asherah, and for all the host of heaven (23:4). He deposes the priests who had made offerings in the high places, and those who burned incense to false gods (23:5). He goes to great lengths to make sure no one would burn their son or daughter as an offering to Molech (23:10). The list goes on. Judah was filled with idols and idolatry, and rather than succumbing to such idolatry (as most of the kings did), Josiah trusts God and rids the nation of it.
This might not sound like such a big deal, but rest assured, it is. The nation was riddled with false gods, and the people turned to these false gods rather than Yahweh. For Josiah to take such extreme action and break the nation of these lies would have taken courage, conviction, and extreme trust in God.
Now, when I initially planned to speak about trusting God as I taught 1 & 2 Kings, I planned to share stories like what I have shared above. But God had different plans. I felt He wanted me to go deeper with this, and He highlighted to me the way these kings – these individuals who trusted God – would have an incredible effect on the nation. Just think about those who saw Hezekiah turn to God as Sennacherib prepared to pounce on Jerusalem; would they not be greatly affected by his trust in the words of God, as spoken by Isaiah? What about those who lived during the time of Josiah? His ridding the land of idolatry would have a profound effect on those who saw his trust in the One True God. Rather than putting his trust into multiple gods to “cover his bases,” Josiah was prepared to put all his trust in Yahweh, and the people of the nation would have seen that, and taken notice. Perhaps some may have even imitated him; perhaps some thought that if Josiah was prepared to trust God in this way, they should too.
Yes, Hezekiah and Josiah were kings. Yes, even before the days of Facebook and Twitter, these men would have a platform from which they were watched and followed. But what about us today? Even if we feel we have no influence, and even (gasp!) if we don’t have Facebook, a blog, or any other form of social media, we can influence those around us. How? By trusting in God. Trusting God looks different. It is not the cultural norm, and it stands out. When we trust God, whether it is in finances, direction for our lives, or for healing, the people around us will notice. We may not affect an entire nation with our trust in God, but we just might affect a handful of people around us. Our small acts of trusting in God can have ripple effects that lead others to trust in the Lord.
I encouraged the SBS students in Nepal that, if they live out trusting God, they could have an effect on those around them. In Nepal, this could mean having an effect on the Hindu mindset that permeates the culture there. While we may not live in a society that is 80% Hindu, we do find ourselves in a culture that is increasingly apathetic towards God. How might your trusting in the Lord have a ripple effect that will challenge and encourage those around you to get to know the One True God, and put their trust in Him?