The Work of Repentance (2 Kings 22-23)
Repentance plays an important role in God’s plan for saving man. Jesus said that unless one repents, he will perish (Lk 13:3, 5). Before Peter told the crowd at Pentecost that they needed to be baptized, he told them to repent (Acts 2:38). After falling into sin after he became a Christian, Simon needed to repent (Acts 8:22).
Repentance is hard work because it involves the heart.
Josiah provides a good example of repentance. Josiah was a good man (2 Ki 22:2). Josiah instituted reforms in his nation, and by so doing he teaches us about “The Work of Repentance.”
The Work of Repentance Involves Changing Knowledge, 22:8-13
Josiah was having the temple rebuilt. Josiah sent Shaphan, his secretary to give Hilkiah, the priest, money which people had brought to rebuild the temple. Hilkiah told Shaphan that he had found the book of the law.
The book of the law had been lost. From Josiah’s reforms, we believe Deuteronomy was the book that was found. We don’t know for sure if this was the only copy of the law or not. We do know from the reaction of the people that they hadn’t heard it before. The people had been so careless as to lose the book of God.
Shaphan came and read the book to Josiah. Josiah tore his clothing—this was a sign of mourning. He sent men to a prophetess to inquire of the Lord. Josiah knew God’s wrath would be great. So, he wanted a prophetess to inquire of the Lord on his behalf.
In order to be able to repent, Josiah needed to know Scripture—if the book of the law had not been found, he wouldn’t have known he needed such vast reforms.
In order to repent, we need to know Scripture. We need to know what we’re doing wrong before we can change it. Scripture provides such information. Matthew 22:29. Hebrews 4:12.
This has two implications:
- Those in the world who don’t know Scripture will be lost.
- We who know Scripture need to examine it and examine our lives in light of it.
The Work of Repentance Means Changing Thinking, 23:1-3
Josiah called all the people together. He went up to the temple and read the book of the law. He then made a covenant to follow the Lord with all his heart and all his soul—not half-heartedly.
If we are to repent, we must change our thinking. Colossians 3:1-2. Romans 12:2. Our minds are a powerful force—Daniel purposed in his heart not to defile himself with what the king ate (Dan 1:8).
Until we make up our minds to change our lives, we won’t.
The Work of Repentance Means Changing Actions, 23:4-14
Josiah instituted many reforms. He ordered all the idols to be taken out of the temple. He deposed of the idolatrous priests. He broke down the houses of the male temple prostitutes. He defiled places of idolatrous worship, i.e., made them unfit for worship. He tore down idols throughout the country.
His repentance was not complete until he instituted these reforms.
Our repentance is not complete until we change our lives. Matthew 3:8. Until we, like Josiah, change our lives, repentance is not complete.
This sermon was originally preached by Dr. Justin Imel, Sr., at the Main Street church of Christ in Pikeville, Kentucky.